Community steps in to help Wilmington woman after family home of 75 years faces code violations

Community steps in to help Wilmington woman after family home of 75 years faces code violations

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - When the City of Wilmington threatened to issue a code violation to a homeowner, good neighbors did what they do best — stepped in to help.

A home in the historic district of downtown Wilmington has been in Renee Garris’ family for about 75 years. It was her grandfather’s and was passed down to her through the years.

Garris is a grandmother, a full-time nurse at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, and is taking care of three people in her family who are battling cancer.

In June, the city gave Garris a list of repairs that needed to be done to the outside of her house. She had until Friday to complete the repairs.

“She works full time and she’s a loving grandmother and a loving aunt and she just takes on everyone. That’s what happened here,” said Greg Pampell with Good Works who stepped in to help Garris with the repairs. “That put her in a place that she needed help. There’s three cancer situations in her family. She has taken care of nieces and nephews and grandkids and has just taken on a lot and so that’s just put her in a financial burden.”

The city told Garris if she didn’t have the repairs done by Friday, it would fine her $100 the first day and $200 for every additional day the repairs weren’t completed, which would add up to about $6,000 a month.

Luckily, neighbors and volunteers have stepped in to help so Garris is able to keep the family home.

“All of her coworkers, once they found out what was going on, they were super supportive,” Pampell said. “A lot of them even rallied on their paid time off to help with the project so it just tells a lot about what kind of person she is. She doesn’t like to ask for help. Once people really found out the need, a lot of people jumped on board because she’s just the kind of person that’s always helping everyone else.”

Since Hurricane Florence halted work on the house for a while, Garris and her neighbors are hoping to get an extension on the code violation deadline.

Pampell talked to a city official Friday and she said Garris needs to submit a request explaining the reasons why and how long of an extension she needs. The request will then be put in for a hearing sometime after the new year but Pampell said he is fairly confident the request will be granted.

For more information on how to help with repair work on Garris’ home, click here.

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